Day 9: York, England – England, Scotland, England Trip

Tremendous day in York, UK today. York is a positively delightful city. Perfect weather, the trees are blooming, the town was teaming with people out for the holiday weekend and some kind of food festival was going on to boot. You know Easter is near but it isn’t overdone with bunnies and stuff. A lily here and there and a few egg references, but not the focus on the stuff and pomp like you get tired of seeing back home. That’s kind of nice. This is definitely a city I will return to revisit if I ever get the good fortune to travel back to the UK again. York is special.

After a quick run this morning along the river Ouse (here’s looking at you NYT Crossword puzzlers!) we popped in the ol’ Vauxhall and headed over to Harrogate to see Will and the Fort Mill High School band march in what might have been the smallest parade ever. The cool part was they marched on a route that made it easy to see them multiple times. The town seemed excited to see a big band like Fort Mill. We positively geeked out for the twenty minutes that we got to see him. Cindy even took a selfie with him which in High School kid land is the most uncool and embarrassing thing ever. I think Will may miss us because he hardly resisted it. Cindy’s kiss on his cheek before yelling “bye Baby Boy!” may have taken it too far. It was glorious to watch.

We ate a nice meal in Harrogate but we could tell Cindy was starting to fade. She’s been fighting a cold/sinus thing since about Tuesday and today it seems to be peaking. We hopped back in the Vauxhall and motored back over to York and put her to bed.

After a quick WIFI recharge, me and Stewart took Charlie over to Yorkminster via a pastry shop to lose him. Ok. We went on a walkabout with the intention of eventually getting to and touring the biggest thing in York. Yorkminster Cathedral. Which we did after buying a souvenir and an Easter pastry “for the kids” and taking a long break on a bench in a wonderful park alongside the Cathedral. What Stewart and me didn’t recognize while Charlie literally picked flowers in the park until we said stop near his 100th dandelion flower, was his rapidly plummeting blood sugar levels. Throw in a tour of an old and historic building where his sister was reading from a tour book that he secretly also wanted to do some reading from (of course without telling us) and you get to the losing Charlie part somewhat unexpectedly. You see, after much holding in of the feelings that he wanted to be reading from the guidebook too, he let those feelings come forth. Loudly. With many repeated phrases like “how come SHE got to read 12 of the 15 sections and now I only get to read THREE??” Sprinkle in a few “I never said you could read anys” from one older sister and you get to the part where I calmly (maybe too calmly, thanks building of God and God’s people!) asked Charlie to sit by the exit. In hindsight, admittedly, I requested this action without explicitly clearly defining the exit or the seat at the exit. Stewart, determined more than ever to finish the three sections, has me thinking that’s the only just and right thing to do.

Hi. It’s me Hindsight here again…this wasn’t exactly the right or just thing to do. Right. Maybe you being a bit of a bigger guy figure out how to get him in the game again…maybe use some of that ‘Charlie-whisperer’ stuff you brag a bit on and on about instead…just a thought (best read in your best Ricky Gervais voice).

One reading section later I think better and we head for the exit. Only when we get there, to the exit in the front of the church (near the entrance), do we discover the exit is on the side of the church. So, at a slightly quicker pace we rush back to the real exit except once there, no seats. No Charlie. But of course, he’s in the gift shop. But he’s not. So he must have wondered out front. But he didn’t and crap, there’s a lot of people. Where did all of these people come from? Now heads are on a swivel. Pace is higher. Stewart is silent. We head to the entrance. No Charlie. Back to the exit. No Charlie. Now everyone starts to look like a possible kidnapper. Pace quickens to that weird Olympic speedwalking pace. Back to the front. “Stewart, you stay right here and don’t move at all. Just watch for Browner. Seriously. Don’t move from this spot. Got it? Don’t move.” It’s said with the kind of frantic that just begs these throngs of possible kidnappers to take my second born too. Praying has commenced. And running. Back to the exit. Through the gift shop. “Even a church has the Disney gift shop-at-the-end-of-the-ride model in place?” I think to myself. I cut the line to the cashier. “I’m looking for my son. He’s 10 in a blue (it was gray) German soccer shirt (it was an Addidas sport shirt) and carrying an orange bag (it was a tan paper bag). Can I go back into the Church?” She opens the automatic doors. Front. Side of church. Other side. Back to the exit. “Dad! What took you guys so long? I’m so tired of waiting. And where’s Stewart? Have you wandered off again? Is she ready to let me read now?” Cashier and security guard show up. “I found him. Yes. This is him. Nope. Gray, not blue. That’s the bag. Nope. Not orange either.” She and the guard both hit their walker talkies and cell phones to call off the search. Geez. I’m that dad.

Two last prayers: “Please let Stewart be right where I left her” and “Please let me find the right time and way to tell this to Cindy.” Thank goodness. Prayer one answered. “Are you using data?”, I ask her (yup, still super worried about losing my shirt to silly international data charges…geez). Nope. She’s found free Yorkminster WiFi. “You know that’s not a safe way to use wifi, right?” Cmon man! Not. The. Time. And nope, prayer two isn’t getting answered as she’s already texted Cindy: Dad. Lost. Charlie. Overstatement of the year. Dad didn’t do a great job of telling Charlie where to sit. Big difference.

So we sat for a bit while Cindy made her way from her rest at the Airbnb. Charlie proceeded to need more time to himself. We kept our distance, but not too much. Cindy brought oranges and recommended an early dinner. I definitely married up.

We reflected on the trip at dinner. It was a great one. But not the same without Will. We all agreed next Spring Break will be mandatory for the five of us. Stewart is thinking Caribbean, Charlie is thinking a cruise. Cindy and me are thinking we have 12 months to redirect.

Long day of driving and flying tomorrow. Back to work/school on Monday. We are lucky to have realities like this to switch between. Until the next vacation.

(before dramatic blood sugar drop)

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